TITLE: The Paper Was Rejected, But Do Readers Care?
AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford
DATE: November 20, 2012 12:20 PM
I discussed in a recent blog entry on
student use of a new kind of textbook
has not been published yet. It was rejected by ICER 2012, a CS
education conference, for what are surely good reasons from the
reviewers' perspective. The paper neither describes the results
of an experiment nor puts the evaluation in the context of
previous work. As the first study of this sort, though, that
would be difficult to do.
That said, I did not hesitate to read the paper and try to put
its findings to use. The authors have a solid reputation for
doing good work, and I trust them to have done reasonable work
and to have written about it honestly. Were there substantial
flaws with the study or the paper, I trusted myself to take them
into account as I interpreted and used the results.
I realize that this sort of thing happens every day, and has for
a long time: academics reading technical reports and informal
papers to learn from the work of their colleagues. But given the
state of publishing these days, both academic and non-academic, I
couldn't help but think about how the dissemination of information
Guzdial's blog is a perfect example. He has developed a solid
reputation as a researcher and as an interpreter of other people's
work. Now, nearly every day, we can all read his thoughts about
his work, the work of others, and the state of the world. Whether
the work is published in a journal or conference or not, it will
reach an eager audience. He probably still needs to publish in
traditional venues occasionally in order to please his employer and
to maintain a certain stature, but I suspect that he no longer
depends upon that sort of publication in the way researchers ten or
thirty years ago.
True, Guzdial developed his reputation in part by publishing in
journals and conferences, and they can still play that role for
new researchers who are just developing their reputations. But
there are other ways for the community to discover new work and
recognize the quality of researchers and writers. Likewise,
journals and conferences still can play a role in archiving
work for posterity. But as the internet and web reach more and
more people, and as we learn to do a better job of archiving
what we publish there, that role will begin to fade.
The gates really are coming down.